Title: Finest Hour
Author: Faye Dartmouth
Category: First season finale resolution
Disclaimer: They're not mine, so don't freak out.
Summary: The President reflects 24 hours after the shooting.
Author's Note: Okay, this is my first try at this kind of thing. So, hope it's not too bad, and feedback would be appreciated.
It all happened so fast. I heard the yell and then I heard the gunfire. It was so loud. But I could still hear the screams. The agents were pushing and pulling me, protecting me, I guess. It was chaos. I didn't see two of my agents fall until I was in the limo, still flanked by other agents.
I remember pieces of it. I remember seeing Zoey and Charlie being forced to the ground. I stretched out my arm and called for Zoey. She was my priority. But that didn't matter. As I am learning, I am the only priority.
I swear we had left the scene before the bullets stopped coming. I never saw anything until they let me watch the news. But by that time, I knew the damage.
Three agents dead, two injured, CJ had a sprained wrist, Toby had some broken ribs and a concussion, and Sam was shot in the stomach.
Two kids take pot shots at us and throw my entire world into disarray. I haven't slept since before the shooting, and that was a day ago. I sent most of the staff home, or at least to their offices to sleep. I don't even know how to deal with this. CJ's already held one briefing with the press and they want another one soon. They all want to know my reaction.
My reaction? Three agents dead, two injured, my senior staff traumatized with two still in the hospital, my family is recovering from hysterics-how should I react?! People tried to kill me tonight. What am I supposed to feel?
At first I was scared. I wasn't ready to die, and my daughter was out there. My daughter, my baby girl, is my life. I was terrified for her. But then in the limo, I was angry. Who could hate me so much to take a gun and target the important people in my life? Then, as the reports of casualties and injuries came in, I felt guilty. Three people gave their lives for me-for my family and my administration. Who am I that I'm worth dying for? And my staff. They have given everything for me already with their jobs. They work harder than anyone I've ever known, take on the burden of running this administration. I may be President but without them I couldn't do anything. Day in and day out, they give up every aspect of their lives. And yesterday they were forced to almost give up their lives.
I was whisked from the scene, back to the safe halls of the west wing. But my staff, they were still there when the bullets stopped. They were there to view the carnage and take stock of injuries. They were there on their hands and knees trying to save one of their own. They were the ones to be loaded into ambulances and to watch them speed away, the lights flashing, with a friend's blood smeared on their hands and staining their clothes. But they came right here to my side as always when it was over. Still in bloody clothes they came to my office to make sure I was okay. And while Sam's in surgery and Toby's under observation, the worked diligently through the night. Not one complaint passed their lips. Quietly they would exchange knowing and comforting gazes between their bustling duties.
And I watch them. I can see how their eyes are tired and hollow at what they have seen. But they work anyway. They have come together to fix this crisis, to assure a worried country that their leader was still safe. CJ came straight from the hospital, her wrist bandaged, and gave a briefing. She was calm and professional, despite the trauma that had just victimized her. They all put aside their pain. The pain I inadvertently caused them, I inevitably force them to ignore.
I nearly lose myself in the guilt. But I can't let myself. Whether I like it or not, I am the President of the United States. This is where I tried so hard to be. I have to be strong, I have to be level headed, and I have to be safe. And all these people-my staff, my agents-knew that when they signed on. They knew the dangers and they knew the sacrifices, and the fact that they're still by my side is a testament to their dedication.
And as I sit here, where Presidents before me have sat, I feel pride. Pride in my staff. They have been my eyes and ears, hands and feet, and sometimes even my brain. They have never failed me. Not even when I failed them. They were heroes as they tried to save lives. They were strong when they came to their duty. They showed compassion to each other as they help each other through the pain. Their tenacity and courage has gotten all of us through our greatest trial. These past twenty four hours have been exceedingly difficult, and I know it is far from over. It will take a long time before any of us can sleep, and before Sam is sitting behind his desk again, but we will prevail.
The country has seen our shortcomings, and I know there have been many in this past year and a half. I know they all watched as we were plunged into the darkest crevice imaginable. Hitting the bottom hurt. It was likely the darkest moment of all our lives. But we have shown the world that we will not be held down. We will not quit. I am confident that despite the horror, this will be remembered as our finest hour.